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Archive for Saturday, May 23, 1998

ARCHITECTS PICK POOL PROPOSAL

May 23, 1998

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The report is in: Lawrence's new indoor aquatic center should have a 25-meter pool, architects said.

The city should build a $7.58 million indoor aquatic center that features a 25-meter competitive pool and separate diving well, a team of architects has determined.

Michael Treanor Architects, hired by the Lawrence City Commission to study pool options, came up with four possibilities for addressing the city's established top priority for new recreational facilities in town.

All four options call for building a leisure pool -- or family pool -- to appeal to all ages through the use of slides, current channels, fountains, zero-depth entries and warm water.

Each option, however, offers a different approach to areas set aside for lap swimming and competitive activities. The smallest version would include a 25-meter pool and an integrated diving area, while the largest version would provide a 50-meter pool and detached diving well.

In the end, architects went middle-of-the-road for their ``preferred scenario'': A leisure pool, a 25-meter competitive pool and a detached diving area.

The building would cover about 41,000 square feet on a site that has already been approved by commissioners: property owned by the Lawrence school district just north of Free State High School.

The preferred option ``meets the majority of aquatic needs and provides flexibility in programming,'' said City Manager Mike Wildgen, who released the architects' study Friday.

Organized swimming groups, including Kansas University, have backed the concept of building a 50-meter competitive pool. The organizations would use the pool to attract large events, such as the Big 12 swimming championships and other meets.

But architects disagreed with that approach, saying that Lawrence's competitive aquatics needs were not large enough to justify the cost of such a large pool. A 50-meter pool with a detached diving well would cost $11.3 million.

The KU swim team has ``the only true need'' for a 50-meter pool, architects said, and that's not enough.

``If this is a strong desire by the university, then they should be expected to partner with the city on the project and pay a portion of the facility's capital construction as well as the potential operating cost,'' the architects said in their written report.

The largest option including a 50-meter pool likely would lose about $350,000 a year in operational costs, architects said.

The recommended option, with a 25-meter pool, likely would lose only $150,000 a year.

The pool project surfaced as the city's top recreation priority following the rejection of a proposed $13.3 million community recreation center in Centennial Park.

Like the failed community center, the pool project is to be financed using revenues from a 1-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 1994.

Copies of the report are available for review from the reserve desk at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

Commissioners are scheduled to review the report during a study session at 9 a.m. Thursday at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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